Dr. Juvonda Hodge aims to bring her experience and expertise to the new role

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Dr. Juvonda Hodge (Photo: Melanie Thortis/ UMMC Photography)

By Rachel Vanderford

JA Guest Writer

Her passion for treating patients with traumatic injuries led Dr. Juvonda Hodge to pursue a career in burn surgery. 

“No one leaves this life without scars of some kind; burn patients are special because their scars are visible,” she said. 

Hodge recently joined the Medical Center faculty as a professor of surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Medicine and medical director of the Mississippi Burn Center.  

The Mississippi State Department of Health designated UMMC as a state burn center in 2023. As the state’s only Level 1 trauma center, UMMC has an interdisciplinary care team for burn patients that includes specialists in emergency medicine and trauma surgery, as well as sub-specialties in plastic surgery, critical care, laboratory medicine, mental health, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.  

“UMMC offers efficient, compassionate care for the patient and recognizes that a burn affects the entire family,” said Hodge. “We have services for critical care for adult and pediatric populations addressing psycho-social, dietary, and plastic surgery needs as well as any other needs that may arise.” 

Hodge, with over 16 years of experience working in a burn center, was most recently at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, one of Emory University’s teaching hospitals. There, she served as an associate professor of surgery, director of the Burn Fellowship, co-director of the Medical Student Burn Unit Clerkship, and assistant medical director of the Walter L. Ingram Burn Center.  

Before that, Hodge was an assistant professor of surgery and assistant medical director at the University of South Alabama hospital system, USA Health. 

“Being at two other burn centers previously, I’m bringing my combined knowledge of two different systems to my role at UMMC. Because they have a combined unit at Grady, I have experience with both pediatric and adult care.” 

Hodge said that working in the South for over 20 years, she understands not only the trauma and burn conditions, but also certain comorbidities that her patients may present.  

“Being a comprehensive care center where you have everything right here for the patient, including critical care for pediatric patients, makes this a great place for a burn unit,” she said. 

Children’s of Mississippi plans to expand its burn care services by building a unit in Batson Tower. Hodge said construction bids will go out soon, and they hope to have the project completed by early 2025.  

While the hospital will soon have new in-patient facilities, Children’s of Mississippi has always offered comprehensive care to pediatric burn patients. 

Hodge said that the child life specialists at the children’s hospital are an integral part of that care. 

“Child life is there to greet the child as soon as they walk in and break down what to expect in age-appropriate language,” said Hodge. “They help by framing expectations and preparing children through each step of the process while they are dealing with emotional changes.”  

She said the specialists are also helpful with parents, teaching them how to deliver bad news to a child. 

“Our focus is on giving the pediatric patients the most appropriate and least traumatic treatment possible,” Hodge said. “They’ve been through enough. We just want to make things easier for them.” 

Burn care infrastructure is also expanding in the adult hospital. Sherry Riser, previously a nurse manager, recently became the director of nursing for adult services. Hodge said positions will also be opening for nursing staff and mid-level providers. 

“We are proud to have Dr. Hodge join our faculty as the Burn Center expands,” said Dr. Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs. “She has the expertise and experience to lead the work toward building the proper infrastructure for treating all burn patients. It is important that Mississippians are able to get the care they need here at home.” 

“This is a great thing for Mississippi,” said Hodge. “We want to contribute to our patients so that they don’t have to travel out of state for this kind of care.”

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Dr. Juvonda Hodge aims to bring her experience and expertise to the new role

By Jackson Advocate News Service
April 1, 2024